Training the Voices In Your Head (Slightly Less Awkward Practice)

A slightly less awkward way to promote awareness of those ‘inner voices’ is to use a movie clip of some sort as our temporary substitute for a reading selection. We’ll watch a bit of it, then stop and practice some of the types of questioning and thinking we want to inculcate in our reading voices as well. Ideally it’s something high-interest but which most of them haven’t seen before.

Let’s start with this:

Serenity Teaser 1

I choose random people around the room and ask things like…

What’s any question you have about this clip or anything in it so far? (If you have none, pretend you do and ask that one instead.) {We always start with this and do at least 3 or 4 people.}

What does this remind you of – in history, fiction, movies, your personal life, anything? In what way? {Keep prodding until you get a couple of different responses.}

What’s the mood of this excerpt so far? How do you know? {Dramatic? Humorous? Action? Scary? Dry?}

What’s going to happen next? {I like to wrap up each ‘color thinking’ segment with 3 or 4 of these predictions.}

OK, let’s see if any of our questions are answered or how we did with our predictions:

Serenity Teaser 2

We repeat the process, making sure to include students who haven’t participated yet. I vary my prodding as seems appropriate, but try to avoid ‘leading’ answers – I’m not needing them to be ‘correct’ about anything; I’m wanting them to practice interacting with the ‘text’ (which in this case, is a movie clip).

If you didn’t do so the first time, you should answer some of these yourself before moving on. Make some predictions and such. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. 

Serenity Teaser 3

More ‘color commentary’ type prodding.

This is a good time to remind participants or students that what we’re doing is very much like what we should be doing when we read. When we’re genuinely interested in something, we do this anyway – sometimes out loud. It’s why old people don’t like to be in theaters with teenagers, or why you (er… or rather, why this one guy you know) accidentally threw buffalo wings across the room because SOME people can’t seem to hold on to the ball even when it’s a CRITICAL 4TH DOWN and it hits you RIGHT IN THE NUMBERS!!! It’s what’s fun about watching singing or sex partner competitions together – you question, predict, challenge, associate – both internally and with one another.

The more boring, difficult, or tedious a reading assignment is, the more important it is to PRACTICE interacting with it in this way so we can become more effective at understanding, processing, and remembering it. The more we PRETEND to be super-interested, the more kinda-sorta-interested we’ll manage to be. The better we get at understanding and analyzing what we read, boring or not, the less we’ll hate it and the more we’ll remember – meaning less time spent forcing ourselves and more time spent just reading it and ‘getting’ it.

At least that’s the goal. Last clip:

Serenity Teaser 4

You may, of course, use something more educational as your sample. I’m a fan of learning new skills with non-threatening material – either something fun or something review-ish.Ideally we then learn new content with comfortable skills – stuff we at least kinda already know how to do.

You could, for example, immediately follow this exercise with a passage of some sort which you actually care about, broken into appropriately-sized 'chunks'. After each chunk, they could 'interact' - either with each other, as a class, or on paper. Eventually this builds into annotations, dialectic journals, Cornell notes, or whatever.

Thinking Out Loud

At this stage, however - if we're truly interesting in building a long-term, universally meaningful reading skill - it's probably better to cover less and really ‘own’ it than to blow through more and not truly retain any of it. Better to practice often than long, in this case.

Or so I'd respectfully propose.

RELATED POST: Training the Voices In Your Head (Intro)

RELATED POST: Training the Voices In Your Head (Awkward Practice)


I am not sure anyone will pay attention to any learning going on as long as Serenity is playing.


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